Using cell phones to broadcast text messages reminding health workers in Kenya how to treat children’s malaria increased the number of cases handled correctly, a study has found.
The study by researchers from Oxford and the Kenya Medical Research Institute was published in The Lancet. It involved 119 health workers who saw over 2,000 children with malaria. Health workers who received twice-a-day reminders handled more cases correctly than those who received the messages less frequently.
The messages reminded workers of basics like when to test and how to prescribe weight-based dosages. A typical one read: “Advise mother to finish all AL doses (artemether-lumefantrine, the standard treatment) over three days even if the child feels better after a few doses.” Since each text costs less than a penny, every nurse in rural Kenya could get reminders. Text messages are far effective than trainers or brochures, neither of which improved care much in Kenya, the authors said.